Crispy Ham Croquetas

published Aug 28, 2021
Croquetas Recipe

Croquetas are a popular Spanish-style appetizer with a rich, ultra-creamy filling studded with pieces of salty ham that spill out when you bite into the delicate, shatteringly crisp breadcrumb coating.

Serves4 to 6

Makes12 to 17

Prep20 minutes to 30 minutes

Cook13 minutes to 17 minutes

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A pile of croquetas on a white plate with a green garnish, with one Croqueta broken in half to show the ham and cheese inside.
Credit: Kelli Foster

Anytime I’m out to eat and ordering tapas, croquetas are a must in my book. If you have yet to try them for yourself, allow me to set the stage. Croquetas are a popular Spanish-stye appetizer with a rich, ultra-creamy filling that’s studded with pieces of salty ham that spills out when you bite into the delicate, shatteringly crisp breadcrumb coating.

At its core, croquetas are a humble dish prepared with just butter, flour, milk, ham, and bread crumbs. But when these ingredients join forces, you’ve got a total crowd-pleaser that’s bound to be devoured in record speed. Best of all, they’re pretty easy to make at  home. Here’s how to do it. 

What Are Spanish Croquetas Made Of?

To make the dough for croquetas, you’ll stir milk into a roux (yes, just as you would when making béchamel sauce, although the proportion of ingredients is slightly different), then mix in ham. Once the dough is chilled, it’s shaped into logs, dipped in egg, coated with breadcrumbs, and fried until golden-brown and crispy. Here’s what you’ll need to make croquetas.

  • Unsalted butter
  • Yellow onion
  • All-purpose flour
  • Whole milk
  • Cured Spanish ham
  • Egg
  • Breadcrumbs

The Best Ham for Croquetas

Traditionally, croquetas are made with finely diced Spanish cured ham, such as Serrano or sometimes Iberian ham. Serrano ham has a rich, buttery flavor, with a hint of spice and sweetness, and nice underlying saltiness. It’s what we recommend using when making croquetas. If you have a tough time tracking it down, other types of ham can be used.

If you don’t have Serrano ham, try substituting smoked deli ham, which is more readily available. It’s not authentic and doesn’t offer the exact same flavor, but it works well and, while different, still makes for a delicious croqueta.

Can You Reheat Croquetas?

Yes! Croquetas are best served immediately when the breadcrumb coating is crispiest and the center is ultra-creamy. Leftovers will keep in the refrigerator for several days, however. Reheat croquetas on a baking sheet in a 350ºF oven until heated through, about 10 minutes. The inside won’t be quite as creamy as when the croquetas were first cooked, but the leftovers are still delicious.

Credit: Kelli Foster

Croquetas Recipe

Croquetas are a popular Spanish-style appetizer with a rich, ultra-creamy filling studded with pieces of salty ham that spill out when you bite into the delicate, shatteringly crisp breadcrumb coating.

Prep time 20 minutes to 30 minutes

Cook time 13 minutes to 17 minutes

Makes 12 to 17

Serves 4 to 6

Nutritional Info


  • 1 1/2 cups

    whole milk

  • 1/2

    small yellow onion

  • 4 ounces

    cured Spanish ham, preferably Serrano

  • 4 tablespoons

    unsalted butter

  • 1/2 cup

    all-purpose flour

  • 1 teaspoon

    kosher salt

  • Pinch ground nutmeg

  • 1

    large egg

  • 1/2 cup

    plain, fine bread crumbs

  • About 3 cups

    vegetable oil, for deep frying


  1. Let 1 1/2 cups whole milk sit at room temperature about 30 minutes. Meanwhile, finely dice 1/2 small yellow onion. Finely dice 4 ounces ham.

  2. Melt 4 tablespoons unsalted butter in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Add the onion and cook, stirring occasionally, until just softened, about 3 minutes. Add 1/2 cup all-purpose flour and cook, stirring constantly, about 2 minutes. While stirring constantly, very slowly pour in the milk. Add 1 teaspoon kosher salt and a pinch ground nutmeg, and stir until smooth. Add the ham and cook, stirring constantly, until the dough thickens and dries out slightly, about 2 minutes.

  3. Transfer the dough to a bowl. Let cool for 30 minutes. Cover and refrigerate until chilled, at least 2 hours, preferably overnight.

  4. Place 1 cup plain, fine bread crumbs in a shallow dish. Lightly whisk 1 large egg in a second shallow dish.

  5. Line a large plate or rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper. Scoop 2 tablespoons dough and roll to form a 2-inch log. Place on the prepared plate or baking sheet and repeat with the remaining dough.

  6. Working with 1 log at a time, dip in the beaten egg until coated and let any excess drip off. Dredge in the bread crumbs, gently pressing them in to adhere. Return to the plate and repeat with the remainder of the logs. Feeze at least 15 minutes. Meanwhile, heat the oil.

  7. Heat 1/2-inch vegetable oil (about 3 cups) in a Dutch oven or other heavy-bottom pot over medium heat to 375ºF. Line a large plate with paper towels.

  8. Frying in batches of 6, add the croquetas to the oil and fry, flipping halfway through, until golden-brown all over, 2 to 4 minutes total. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the croquetas to the plate to drain. Serve immediately.

Recipe Notes

Ham: If you can’t find Serrano ham, use 4 ounces smoked deli ham sliced 1/4-inch thick.

Make-ahead: The dough can be prepared a day in advance and refrigerated in a covered bowl.

Storage: Leftovers can be refrigerated in an airtight container for up to 4 days. Reheat in a 350ºF oven until warmed through, about 10 minutes.